Navigating our emotions and giving them the proper respect and place in our lives is tricky. Emotions are not, in fact, a sign of weakness or inability to lead at a high capacity, but rather a high level of emotional intelligence—these people get what is going on. They know how to read a room, they know what to say and how to say it.
We don’t want to lean too much into our emotions and be led only by them, riding the often dramatically high peaks and the scary low valleys. And we don’t want to ignore, deny or numb them, leaving us living in a world that lacks feeling or vibrancy. Thankfully, we live in a time where we are encouraged more to have healthy conversations about our mental state. We monitor how we are feeling and why are feeling that way. Constantly gauging, evaluating and reporting.
There is a reason that God made us creatures who feel things deeply.
Using emotions as guides to be noticed and noted is not new. Fear has kept us alive for thousands of years—we don’t pick fights we can’t win or try to do things that will certainly end terribly. We feel angry at injustice and take action. We comfort those in our lives who are sad. We celebrate with those who celebrate and mourn with those mourn. Carrying each other through the peaks and valleys, lifting and being lifted.
We do not want to be overtaken or blinded by our emotions though. Being blind with rage is not good for anyone, while getting angry isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Debilitating sadness doesn’t serve anyone well. Getting passionate isn’t a bad thing, but becoming unstable can be dangerous.
Losing control, unfortunately, is all too common. It is not healthy and can be dangerous. The destruction that is caused during those episodes is often deep and long-lasting. The physical and emotional effects can leave scars that last a lifetime. When we can’t see out of the forest of our emotions we lose our grasp on reality, we no longer can find true north in order to orient ourselves appropriately to move forward. Instead, we become stuck and feel like a prisoner to our own selves. Unsure what is really true and what is not.
Setting emotions in their right place
If you are not at a healthy place, if you are feeling trapped, this is the opportunity to do something. Look into counseling and take it seriously. The money invested in your health will not be wasted. The hard work you put into your mental well-being is money well-spent. And there is absolutely no shame in getting help, it’s not a sign of failure or weakness. Think of it like going to get help for a physical injury. Sure, you could keep going, but that will not allow you to thrive. Your emotional health is paramount and directly affects the quality of your life. There is always room to grow in this area.
Another side to this coin is being able to properly identify and respond to the emotions of others, not just dealing with our own emotions. People who are emotionally intelligent can read people’s emotions from their posture and facial expressions. They can properly assign the right emotion and figure out a way to cheer them up if needed. As a culture we often underestimate the importance of emotional intelligence and health.
Don’t ignore the work.
In many ways it is just as important as our physical health. Workplaces and families suffer when someone emotionally unhealthy is acting out. It is akin to having someone with the flu walking around the office or your home, breathing their own contaminants into the air, changing the dynamics of whatever they are a part of.
Emotional intelligence is not just a general sense of niceness or being agreeable, which also get mistaken for being Christ-like. Pleasantness doesn’t make anyone holier or healthier. Taking steps toward health and becoming emotionally intelligent benefits everyone. Suppressing your thoughts or biting your tongue may seem like an acceptable short-term solution, but ultimately it will not work. Loneliness and resentment will creep in over time. You are meant to belong to a community and to be an active member who shares and takes part, not a passive observer. Bring your whole, healthiest self when you show up.